Fun for the whole family — The SpongeBob Musical is one that will leave you laughing from beginning to end
By Mindy Borden
As someone who did not grow up watching SpongeBob, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect attending the live performance of The SpongeBob Musical, now playing at Parkland’s Harold and Jean Miner Theatre in Champaign. Sure, I’d heard the SpongeBob SquarePants theme song many times throughout my life, and I was somewhat familiar with the characters, but I didn’t really know specific details about the show.
As the parents of children who love local theater productions, we were excited to be back in the theater to watch The SpongeBob Musical. If you have not attended a performance at Parkland’s Harold and Jean Miner Theatre, you are in for a fun experience.
As soon as you walk in the theatre, the lighting is set to make you feel like you are under the sea as is the setting for the SpongeBob and his friends.
The brightly colored backdrops, fantastic costumes and makeup, and the amazing hairstyles kept us entertained from the time we sat down until the time that we left. The characters all fully embodied their roles and their costumes reflected their character’s personalities.
We particularly loved Patrick’s pink hair, board shorts, and colorful attire. SpongeBob’s positive and upbeat personality was one that you couldn’t help but admire. SpongeBob and Patrick, apparently close friends in real life as well as in the show, sang some great duets about their friendship.
The props of the show were also engaging. Our group particularly loved the motorized Gary the Snail. Keep an eye on him during the show – even his eyes move. Plankton and Karen the Computer mesmerized our audience, as well, with their technological props, green lipstick, and Jetson styled costumes. Numerous costume changes kept the play fresh and entertaining.
Our group also loved the octopus, plankton, and roller skating performers. You will want to be in your seats before the show starts and immediately before the start of the second act as Patchy the Pirate makes his way through the seating of the theatre.
We felt as if we were embedded in the town’s quest to save themselves from their beloved Mount Humongous.
The orchestra pit is located to the right of the seating area facing the stage and there is also a very engaging sound effects manager to the left of the stage. The live music and comical sound effects kept children and adults engaged throughout the show.
Our group loved being right there immersed in the music and able to see the musicians perform alongside the stage. The music was light and complimentary to the show. It was not overwhelming, but if you are concerned about how your child might react to the live music, you could bring a pair of headphones with you. Brightly lit, colorful backdrops kept our attention, and the scenes were short, fresh, and lively.
Perhaps what we loved most about this show was that children were up and dancing around at their seats, answering a character’s question or two during the production, and smiling along to the show. Turns out, I didn’t really need to know much about the storyline of SpongeBob in order to appreciate this performance.
The performance shows us the importance of positivity, friendship, and working together for our community. The smiles on the performer’s faces were enough to put a smile on most anyone’s face. The singing, acting, energy of this show, phenomenal costumes, makeup, and did we mention the fun hair….you don’t want to miss the performance.
The seats were spacious and aisles provided plenty of space for movement. Food and drink are not allowed in the theatre but they are able to be purchased and consumed in the lobby area during intermission. At the end of the show, patrons have the opportunity to meet the cast and take photos.
The show lasted roughly two and half hours with a short intermission between acts. If you are worried about the length of the show near bedtime, there were several children in attendance on the night that we took in the show and all children were wide-eyed and engaged at the end of the show. There are also matinee performances still available.
IF YOU WANT TO GO: Remaining shows include April 24 (3 p.m.), April 29 (7:30 p.m.), April 30 (7:30 p.m.) and May 1 (3 p.m.). Tickets can be purchased online or in person at the theatre. Adult tickets are $25, student/youth/senior/Veteran $22, groups of 10+ $20, and children 12 and under $12. There are no assigned seats, as the theatre is situated so that all seats provide great views of the stage.
The Harold and Jean Miner Theatre is located on the campus of Parkland College, which is off Bradley avenue in Northwest Champaign. Get to campus and follow the signs.